13 June 2017

Day 2

It's only Day Number Two of summer vacation, and we're already struggling over here. As in, give-up-let-the-kids-watch-tv-in-the-afternoon-again status. I was already letting them watch too much tv during the school year and I really wanted almost no television during the summer. I saw this pop up on Facebook and I fantasized for a moment that our summer plans were solely the kids riding bikes and catching fireflies.

That's totally what my summers were like as a kid, biking to "the far away" park as fast as I could in the 90 degree weather merely because I could. After Theodore, I gave up the "normal family" fantasy. I kept waiting for the day my kids would be old enough that we could let them run around during coffee and donuts after church or stay late at a family function or get themselves in and out of a car without me having to climb in the backseat or be at a store and not strapped in a stroller. After every stupid-ass comment someone passed our direction, I'd assure Matt: "Everyone else's kids are older. They just can't remember what it's like to have really little kids anymore." But Eleanor's only three now, and beyond old enough to run around with steaming hot liquids at eye-level, stay up passed her bedtime on occasion, climb in and out of her car seat and buckle the top buckle, and stay by my side at a busy store. Does your six-year-old distract you by knocking the butter dish off the counter then bolting to your room, locking the door, and squirting your lotion all over the carpet before you can unlock the door all because you turned off the tv/gave the toy she stole from her brother back to him/won't let her play on your phone? I'm guessing it's not an everyday occurrence around most houses.

What I am most surprised about is how quickly Abigail tires of what she is doing. She is done with every toy in the house by lunch time. She is done playing outside within 45 minutes. She is done with the coloring books I bought, the new game I invented, the pile of books I handed her as I walked away. She gets bored, then she starts picking fights or overreacting to what her siblings are doing. Theodore is too young yet for me to "just ignore it," and yesterday when I ignored a petty fight between the girls, it turned into an out-and-out screaming match that left my ears ringing. Abigail brings a radically different component to the table and I have no idea how to be the sole person to work with it all day long.

I have been toying for a while with the idea of moving Eleanor into Theodore's room and giving Abigail her own private space to retreat. No siblings allowed without her say-so; just Abigail with some of her favorite toys so she can be alone and regroup.

I do realize that the key to staying sane with lots of small children is to keep expectations low. The plan I mentioned earlier to strive for just five accomplishments per day is going really well. If only those five things get done, it really feels like a successful day. Goal = achieved. I actually added a "Kids Three" to my daily must-dos too: school, read books, play outside. If they can do those three things everyday, I will consider it a great summer. Although, maybe I should put "no tv" on there too. If they could go without television during the week, that would be a great summer.

I'm glad it's still working for me. The more my support systems work, the better off my whole family is.

I'm not exactly sure how summer school is going. I can tell you that my current method is too stressful for me.

I had hoped to do it with the girls during Theodore's nap, but Eleanor reverted back to napping and hasn't given it back up. So I try to squeeze school in after lunch and before naptime. The thing that makes it stressful is that both girls really need my undivided attention at the same time. There are no activities they can do purely alone for more than (literally) 1-2 minutes. I am jumping back and forth from kid to kid while the other kid just sits there and waits. Abigail uses her 60 seconds of independence to make trouble, Eleanor uses hers to complain REALLY LOUDLY. I need to work with one kid at a time until all their work is done. But then what do I do with the other kid while I'm working? I have a few ideas that I will be testing out this week. Hopefully by next week, I'll have a good schedule down.

This book combined with these sleeves are their favorite thing to do.

The good news is that the kids love doing their schoolwork, especially Eleanor, who cries when we're all done, and that's with a bunch of extra work I give her when she finishes the scheduled stuff.

This math book is so-so. It's too expensive for as regular as it is.

Yeah. Way too long of a worksheet.

The writing workbook is great! I could definitely get more out of it if I could give Abigail more attention when she's working on it.

I'll do a more comprehensive post regarding just the workbooks and activities when we've done a few weeks worth of work, so I can get a better feel for them. In the meantime, I'm identifying our weak points and working to strengthen them. Maybe by August, it'll be smooth sailing. ; )


Liz said...

Abigail's penmanship is great!

So good to pop in and see how you all are doing. I have the same TV struggles you do. Ugh, it's a never-ending battle :(.

If it makes you feel any better, the moms I know who try to teach two little people at the same time, don't usually attempt one-on-one stuff for both in the same sitting. My successful two-kid stuff is usually of the auditory variety. Alot of families teaching multiple kids will do a sort of circle-time or morning time approach where they do auditory and large motor skill type learning all together (think poetry and scripture memorization, songs -- about science even, reading aloud that has a focus like ABC's or history or just great classic kid books, weather/calendar stuff). Then they occupy one kid (usually the toddler) with a totally unsupervised activity such as coloring in a cheap workbook, tanagrams, scissor and paper strips, or playing with a dry erase board (cotton ball for erasing) while they work with the big kid on workbooks or what-have-you.

Anyway, I'm sure you've already figured out some solutions, but every little nugget of info helps sometimes! Little kids are just chaotic and messy and demanding in the best of situations :o).

Take care! Liz

Jacqueline said...

Thanks for all the tips! It's good to hear I'm not the only one who struggles with the tv :) Btw, that page is done hand-over-hand, Abigail's penmanship isn't nearly that good. :D